more h*lm*t letters


Peter Clinch

A colleague has just handed me a current edition of the "Tesco"
magazine, and there is a call in the letters page to make the H-things

From a Lindsey Taylor, by email
"So often we read in the news about children being seriously injured, or
killed while riding a bike. I really don't understand why it is not
compulsory for all children to wear cycle helmets. My 11 year old is
not allowed to ride his bike without one, and because of this, is
sometimes teased. Luckily he is a confident child and takes it with a
pinch of salt. But why isn't it law?

It has been proven that in the event of an accident, wearing a helmet
could save a life. I believe we should all be proactive in helping our
children by encouraging them to wear bicycle helmets. Do we really have
to wait for the government to tell us to do so? We may wait a while.
It is dangerous enough out there already for our children. Let's help
them be safer"

I have replied as follows (their email is [email protected]):

"I read Lindsey Taylor's letter concerning cycle helmets in the
July/August issue of the magazine with interest: as a part time cycle
trainer and full time clinical scientist I've had reason and opportunity
to research the subject thoroughly, and although Lyndsey's thoughts are
a normal "common sense" reaction, in reality it isn't that simple.

There is, in fact, no clear proof that cycle helmets save lives overall.
If we look at places where they /are/ compulsory, like Australia and
New Zealand, we can see that the expected casualty savings have never
materialised, with a large reduction in cycling being the main effect of
the legislation rather than a lower rate of head injuries. While some
studies have suggested the helmets should be highly effective, this has
not been the experience in the real world and the studies concerned have
had serious flaws found in their working methods.

So we shouldn't make helmets compulsory because we can see from places
where they /are/ that it doesn't actually help! I would suggest reading
at for more information on the matter.

Finally, if something should be made law because it /might/ save a life,
we should all be wearing crash helmets in our cars, homes, and just
walking down the street! Government figures show that pedestrians
suffer slightly more serious accidents per mile than cyclists, and the
cyclists aren't getting more head injuries by proportion either, so
there is no particular reason to single out cyclists for special head

Others may wish to contribute their twopence worth.

Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected]